OTTAWA - The cost of getting a Canadian passport is going up significantly in the new year.
Without the fee increases, Passport Canada would not be able to maintain current operations, let alone offer security-enhanced travel documents, the agency says.
New regulations posted this week confirm the cost of a five-year passport will increase to $120 from $87.
And starting in July 2013, a 10-year passport will also be offered at a cost of $160.
By March 2014, Passport Canada will also charge an additional $45 to replace a passport that's lost or stolen, something that's currently free. Approximately 55,000 Canadian passports are reported lost or stolen annually, the agency said.
As well, anyone ordering or wanting to receive their passport outside of Canada will see fees nearly double.
The agency said it's currently losing nearly $5 every time it issues a passport, and has been financing its deficit by using previously accumulated surpluses that will run out next year. Passport fees in Canada have not increased for nearly a decade, the agency noted.
"Passport Canada is quickly reaching a point where not only will new advancements such as the ePassport be impossible, but the organization's ability to maintain current operations and deliver its mandate will be jeopardized," the agency said in a statement posted on the Canada Gazette website.
"Passport Canada must secure a fee increase to introduce the 10-year ePassport, keep pace with technological advancements and maintain its current level of service for Canadians."
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced in October that Canada would adopt new passports that include chip technology and watermark images designed to prevent fraud.
The ePassport looks like a regular passport booklet, but contains an electronic chip that holds all of the personal information listed on the second page of the document.
The chip — already being used in dozens of other countries — can be read by border authorities to confirm the passport is valid.
Canada is the only G8 country that doesn't currently issue ePassports to the general public, although it has been issuing chip-enhanced diplomatic and special passports since 2009.
The new passports will also contain watermarks depicting iconic images from Canadian history.
Canadians ordering passports from outside the country will see the biggest jump in fees. It will cost $190 to apply for, or receive, the five-year document in another country, up from $97. The fee will be $260 for the 10-year version requested under the same circumstances.
The cost of a child's passport is also going up to $57, an increase of $20, if ordered domestically. It'll cost $100 if the child's application is processed outside Canada.
The increases may be too much of a burden for seniors or low-income Canadians, Passport Canada acknowledged in the regulations.
"Consultations have demonstrated that some segments of the Canadian population may be more sensitive to an increase in passport fees," the agency said in its cost-benefit analysis.
The solution suggested? Alternative travel documents, or none at all.
"Canadians unsatisfied with the passport fee increase may also choose an alternative travel document, such as a NEXUS card," the agency said.
"Or (they may) decide not to travel."
The NEXUS card can only be used as valid identification for travel between Canada and the United States.
It currently costs American citizens US$110 to renew a passport in the United States, or US$135 for a new one.
In the United Kingdom, an adult passport will set back residents there the equivalent of about $117.
Related on HuffPost:
If you've gotten married or changed your name for other reasons and it says so on other official documents, like driver's licenses, it's recommended to order a new passport in your new name -- otherwise you might encounter problems at the border.
If there's an error printed on your passport -- either due to your mistake or the government's -- don't just try to book tickets under your misspelled name. Get that mistake fixed, or it can come back to haunt you in a foreign country, far from any embassy, if they ask for further identification.
If you're a frequent traveller, you know the panic of running out of space in your passport because its expiration date -- but whatever you do, don't add in pages yourself, as they'll be seen as invalid. Passports with more pages can be ordered when you get your passport (for an additional cost).
Although one news story earlier this one told of <a href="http://digitaljournal.com/article/317257" target="_hplink">a man who used a scanned version of his passport on his iPad to enter the United States</a>, that practice generally won't work at most borders. Always have the physical document with you.
Covering The Passport
Putting anything on your passport as a covering material is not legal in most countries (note: the stickers depicted here are usually placed there by airline employees, and just fine).
Stamps For Certain Countries
This one's a bit more detailed, but there's long been rumours about stamps from certain countries making it impossible to cross borders into other ones -- Israel is one country that often crops up in these discussions. A thread on <a href="http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1977291" target="_hplink">Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum discusses this in detail</a>, but one option is asking Israel border guards - who are familiar with the issue -- not to stamp your passport in the first place.
Most people know not to travel with an expired passport, but some countries are even stricter in their regulations, requiring that a passport be valid for up to six months once you're entered their territory. Be sure to check specifics for any location -- a good list of <a href="http://traveltips.usatoday.com/countries-require-six-months-passport-validity-100788.html" target="_hplink">countries that enforce the rule is found here</a>.
Even if some countries have different regulations about their passport pictures (for example, some nations still allow for smiles in the shots), it's a good idea to adhere to international regulations for photos. A full list of <a href="http://www.ppt.gc.ca/info/photos.aspx?lang=eng" target="_hplink">requirements for Canadian passport photos can be found here</a>.
Watch out for that pool! Water damage, even a small amount, can render a passport invalid, and because it's difficult to predict how stringent particular border guards will be, it's a good idea to replace it even if it's only a few drops.
Pages that are ripped are considered to be damaged when it comes to passports. This is particular the case on the photo page, where airline staff might suspect falsified photos or details.